Why 'Zestimates' are 'Zinaccurate'

...Or Why You Shouldn't Let A Computer Price Your Home

Asking a computer to figure out the value of your home is kind of like asking an app on your phone to tell you what you feel like for dinner. It can make an educated guess, but in the end it’s still really only just a guess. It may think you feel like pasta or sushi since that’s what you ate the last three Saturday nights but if you really have a hankering for a burrito tonight, there’s no way a computer is going to know that.

And the same is true when it comes to comparing homes. Automated valuation models are good for giving you a very broad picture of what your home might be worth, but so many factors contribute to a home’s value that it’s impossible for a computer to accurately compare one home to another.

Online price comparisons are great when you’re shopping for computers, refrigerators or cars, since the product is the same no matter who you buy it from. But that doesn’t hold true when you’re comparing homes, since no two homes are exactly alike.

Zillow can make an educated guess based on the location, size and the number of bedrooms and baths but it can’t tell whether (or when) the kitchen was remodeled or how old the roof, furnace or carpeting might be. An algorithm doesn’t know whether your 1/4-acre lot is flat and capable of accommodating a pool or mostly a large, steep hill.

And what about views? In Benicia, you could have two identical floorplans right across the street from one another, yet one might have a $70,000 water view and the other might have no view at all. Zillow doesn’t know that.

'...relying on a Zestimate® to figure out what your home is worth is a bit like throwing darts blindfolded. '

While most agents detest continuing education and seminars, we embrace it. We’re always trying to expand our knowledge and skills by taking classes, seminars and webinars. Staying abreast of the latest trends, information and resources not only keeps us sharp, but it helps us serve our clients better, too. There’s no better feeling than using that knowledge to come up with a viable solution to a complicated issue that keeps a deal on track which might otherwise have fallen apart.

We also believe in keeping our clients informed and aware of what’s happening in their transaction every step of the way. Many agents are delighted to deliver good news but shy away from sharing the bad news. We believe that our clients have the right to know everything we know and that bad news will only get worse if it’s not addressed right away. So while we much prefer giving news that will make our clients smile, when something occurs that might jeopardize the sale, we share that, too, along with sensible options for eliminating the problem altogether or minimizing the impact. Our clients hire us to advise and represent their interests and a big part of that is anticipating problems before they become problems and keeping them informed so they’re not blindsided when a festering problem comes to light.

Technology is also a big part of our business. We were one of the first agents in our local market to utilize the internet…and that was back when nobody really knew what this new-fangled world wide web was really all about. Today, technology is changing every facet of our lives and we embrace those changes. We always try to stay abreast of the newest technological advances in our industry. In fact many of our colleagues come to us for advice on how to implement some of these technologies into their own businesses.

Zestimate Sample #2a (2018 — 1400-2000 sf)

As you can see, relying on a Zestimate® to figure out what your home is worth is a bit like throwing darts blindfolded. Occasionally, a Zestimate® will come close, but there’s little chance of hitting a bullseye unless you can see the target.

The only real way to determine the approximate value of your home is to by comparing apples with apples, which means contacting an experienced real estate agent. Someone who knows which factors contribute to value and which don’t. And who can assign realistic values to your home’s amenities based on the preferences of local buyers.

Every year, we talk to prospective clients who think they know what their home is worth, only to discover that their Zestimate® was off by tens of thousands of dollars. Price your home too low and you’ll leave money on the table. Price it too high and it will sit on the market, which could cost you thousands in the long run. Price it right and you’ll give yourself the best chance of getting a realistic offer in a reasonable amount of time.

Wondering what your home might be worth? We’ll be happy to visit your home and give you a realistic estimate of your home’s current value. No pressure and no obligation.

But just don’t ask us what you feel like for dinner.